Inspector Sherlock Dormouse was about to order a lockdown on the department when the Lewis Carroll man walked in.

Each and every one of the police officers stopped with their mouths open wide, staring at him. For one, he was scary as hell. And two, it made no sense for a criminal to walk into the department on his own.

Inspector Dormouse didn’t feel the need to fall asleep now. How could he with that monster walking in his office? He watched the lankly man stroll through, not saying a word. He seemed to be looking for something.

The man was tense, gripping his head and sweating like he had an intolerable headache. He was sweating and drooling. He was in dire pain.

But he kept on walking, stopping next to the room where they locked criminals in—well, they hadn’t used it for some time because they never caught anyone.

The Lewis Carroll man stood in front of the barred cell and turned to face the sweating Inspector.

“Keys,” he demanded.

“Keys?” Inspector Dormouse raised his eyebrows.


“Keys?” the rest of the officers replied, eyes wide open with surprise.

Keysss,” the monster grunted.

“Keys! How many times does he have to ask for the keys?” Inspector Dormouse yelled at the officers.

One of them threw the cell’s keys on the Inspector’s desk. Sherlock Dormouse wished he was asleep now, so he wouldn’t have to hand them himself to the Lewis Carroll maniac.

Slowly, he reached for them then started tiptoeing his way toward the monster. “There is no need to lock us inside the cell,” the Inspector managed to say, his lips shivering and his belly flipping like jelly. “We can just leave and you can enjoy the department all alone. Right, officers?”

All the officers nodded in silence.

The Lewis Carroll man snatched the keys from the Inspector and opened the cell with it.

Then he did something unexplainable.

He entered the cell, locked himself inside, and gave the keys back to the Inspector.

Chapter 52

Hookah Festival, Brazil

It’s hard to fully comprehend what’s going on in the Hookah Festival, not with all this spiraling smoke around us.

“I love it!” The Pillar raises both arms in the air, welcoming the show.

“Of course you love it.” I roll my eyes. “All the hookahs you can smoke for a lifetime.”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about, Alice. This is where imagination runs wild,” the Pillar says as we snake through the endless crowd. He inhales every flavor we come across as if it’s the battery of his soul. “Look at all this haze.”

“There is nothing to look at. I can barely see anything.”

“And that’s the point exactly.”

“The point is not to see what’s ahead of me?”

“The point is to see enough to get you going, and then keep the rest of it a mystery.”

“And why would I want whatever is in front of me to be a mystery?”

“Oh my, Alice. Can’t you see this festival is a metaphor for life? What good is it if you know what tomorrow holds for you? One hookah puff at a time, young girl.”

Instead of arguing, or actually considering his logic, I see him greeting all fellow hookah’s he passes by. At least I can see that far.

“Banana-flavored hookah!” The Pillar celebrates. “You have to try this one, Alice.”

“No, thanks. I’ve had my share of dizziness already.” Would I risk experiencing the mushrooms’ effect again?

“How about Blueberry?” he offices.

“Aren’t we supposed to find the Scientist?”

“But of course,” he burps. “Mr Scientist!” Spiral bubbles form out of his mouth when he speaks. “Not here.”

I don’t know if it’s funny or horrible when I see him act like a kid. Thank God I told the Columbian kids to wait in the chopper, or this would have turned into a kindergarten.

“How about this one?” He hands me a hookah that writes random words in the air when you blow out the smoke. How this is possible, I have no idea.

Who r u? The Pillar writes in the air, just like a 1951 Disney movie.

I have to admit. I am tempted to try it. But I realize I am just wasting time while I have a lot of questions.

“Pillar.” I pull him by his sleeve. “I had a vision where I saw Lewis Carroll in the bus accident.”

This stops him from having fun.

He faces me with a keen look in his eyes, but says nothing.

“Does that look mean you knew about this?”

“Not knew, but the assumption had crossed my mind,” the Pillar says. “Bear in mind I have no idea what happened on the bus. I only found you after that, when I got into the asylum.”

“So why did you assume Lewis Carroll was on the bus?” I say. “My brain is about to explode. It’s all so confusing. Why is Lewis a Wonderland Monster?”

“Because it’s not exactly Lewis who you saw on the bus. Nor is he the man who plagued the world with his hookahs.”

“Then who is that man looking so much like Lewis?”

“Didn’t you hear nobody say his name? Carolus Ludovicus.”

“I’m not following. Who is Carolus Ludovicus?”

“The hardest Wonderland Monster to kill,” the Pillar says. “Because he is also Lewis Carroll.”

Now my head spins even more.

Chapter 53

Hookah Festival, Brazil

We walk among the festive Brazilian crowd as the Pillar tries to explain things to me.

“You remember when I told you Lewis Carroll’s real name?” he asks me.

“Of course I do. This is the second time you’ve asked me this. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.”

“Charles was looking for a pen name to use for his book, Alice in Wonderland,” the Pillar begins. “Let’s skip why he needed a pen name for the book for now. What matters is that he spent weeks looking for a special name. One of his ideas was to try to translate his real name to Latin. Charles in Latin is Carolus.”

“I’ve never heard this before.”

“Because people are usually obsessed with books, not their authors.” The Pillar walks next to me in the haze.

“And Lutwidge is Ludovicus?”

“Now you get it,” the Pillar says. Fireworks play all around us. “But then you realize how villainous the name sounds. Interesting but villainous. So he decided to play with it a little. First move was to try Ludovicus Carolus.

“And then?”

“With a little word play, it became Louis Carol, and finally Lewis Carroll.”

“I understand. But it doesn’t explain him becoming a Wonderland Monster, or is he?”

“Let’s put it this way. Lewis took drugs like any other Victorian authors in a time when it was a common and legal practice. And like most artists, they’re usually stimulated by pain or euphoric substances. Don’t make count the endless names in history who’d prove my theory.”

“I don’t agree with you, but continue anyway.”

“Lewis’ headaches were the main reason for his addiction. A drug, or rather a cure, called Lullaby, a Wonderlastic invention,” the Pillar says. “The drug helped with his migraines, which he had explained as splitting his head in two. There is a famous scribbled drawing of him with a split brain found in his diaries.”

“An image he drew himself?”

“Yes. Lewis used to beat the migraines with art, poetry and masterpieces, until he desperately needed Lullaby.”

“Which I assume the Executioner and his people provided back in Wonderland.”

“Exactly, and the tricky part is that Lewis still lived in Oxford at the time. He had found a way to move between the two worlds and get his fix.”

“Still, this doesn’t explain...”

“Just bear with me. So the drug worked for a while, until the Queen of Heart found out about Carroll’s need. Since this was at the peak of conflicts in Wonderland, the Queen ruling with an iron fist and Carroll trying to create the Inklings to oppose her, she made sure the drug disappeared from the face of Wonderland.”